MANILA, Philippines – Lumad leaders from Mindanao and indigenous peoples (IPs) from Luzon and Visayas marched to President Benigno Aquino III’s home in Times Street, Quezon City on Saturday, July 4, to perform a Pandiwata ritual.
According to the Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KATRIBU), a Pandiwata is a ritual practiced by various Mindanao tribes to signal the start of a Pangayaw or tribal war.
KATRIBU said the IPs performed the ritual for the alleged “cold-blooded murder of 61 IPs, 46 of which are Lumad, in a span of 60 months.” (READ: Is Aquino snubbing indigenous peoples?)
During the Pandiwata, 7 eggs, 7 candles, and betel nuts were offered by the ritual performers. The eggs are believed to summon 7 spirts of deceased bagani or warriors and ancestors who will bless them with strength and courage, which they can get from chewing the betel nuts.
The 7 candles, meanwhile, will help define the goals of their fight: the recognition of IPs’ rights to their self-determination and their ancestral lands. (READ: Indigenous group calls for Pope’s support in fight for land)
“We performed the ritual to declare our determination to carry on the fight for our ancestral land. It is our response to the multiple human rights violations that the state committed against us,” said Jomorito Goaynon, tribal chieftain of a Higaonon community and the chairperson of Kalumbay northern Mindanao regional Lumad organization.
The MindaNews reported that Ricky Basig, a lumad member of Barug Katawhan, was shot dead on June 25. The Karapatan Southern Mindanao claimed Basig became the “45th victim of extrajudicial-killings in Southern Mindanao region under the Aquino administration.”
According to KATRIBU, Basig’s death occurred less than two weeks after Datu Ruben Enlog, leader of the Nagkahiusang Lumad ng Mag-uuma sa Paquibato, and two other farmers were allegedly massacred in Davao City.
KATRIBU said the farmers are protesting against the military’s alleged occupation of public facilities and civilian homes in the area.
“Aquino should be held accountable for atrocities committed against the Lumad leaders and communities. A president who pretends to be a staunch defender of human rights but unabashedly (condones) the killing his people, terrorizes children, and treats indigenous communities as collateral damage, should step down,” said Sulong Katribu Party List chairperson Windel Bolinget.
“He must be replaced by a leader who truly stands for the welfare and development of all communities and not of the few,” Bolinget said, stressing that the country needs a leader who “champions and defends national patrimony, sovereignty, and the collective rights of the indigenous peoples.” – With a report from Mara Cepeda/Rappler.com